Driftwood - Driftwood
Record Label: Yellow Bike Records
Release Date: Dec. 3, 2013
Driftwood, the self-titled third disc from the New York-based Americana outfit is a sterling collection of roots-based anthems that ring inside the psyche, ruminating from start to finish. The best example of this is the hushed intimacy of album opener “High School Paycheck,” with begins simply with just Joe Kollar’s banjo and vocal before gradually and beautifully building to a rousing and absolutely stirring conclusion. It’s never easy to start an album with your best song, but the band certainly deserves kudos for allowing the listener to be hooked.
From there, Driftwood never once relents or disappoints. “The Sun’s Going Down” is urgent, commanding and absolutely arresting. Ditto to the meandering mid-tempo cut “Roller Coaster” and the vernal “The Carburetor and the Steam Engine,” a violin-laden tour-de-force that is a masterwork in how to create tension, drama and anticipation. The disc’s first half concludes with the understated charmer “Before I Rust,” a cautious and ominous melodrama that lingers long after its brief running time. The quartet wades in the same waters on the back half with no one song better than the other. “Words Come True” and “Outer Space” are fractious, halting and utterly resplendent. Nervosa and hesitancy are not often associated with soaring crescendos, ebullient choruses and orchestral surges, but for Driftwood it makes all the sense in the world.
The albums that make a true dent are the ones that know when and how to juggle tempo and cadence, vacillating between brittle ballads and ragged rockers. The near-perfect “Company Store” and the impressive “Time Is,” represent the band scaling it back for a few moments but never once losing sight of the importance of their mission. Roots music, when done well has a purpose, a power and a precision that makes bands of other genres try harder, draw closer and want more. Driftwood seems to understand that quite well, but nowhere is that more clear than in penultimate cut “Buffalo Street” and album closer “Brother.” On the former, the band utilizes a two-minute instrumental intro before segueing into a yarn about the denizens of downtown Ithaca. On the hushed closer “Brother,” the quartet revisits family history with a novelist’s attention to detail. Though she’s featured prominently on much of the ten songs, Claire Byrne’s lilting violin is at its best here and revisits exactly what makes Driftwood so damn compelling.
In a music landscape dominated by hissing synths, gussied up attention whores and avant-garde self-indulgence, the utter simplicity of Driftwood is in many ways a revelation. While an up-and-coming New York roots-band is as ordinary as a sunrise, the power packed within each of these eleven songs is worth celebrating. Come to think of it, this might just be one of the best roots discs this reviewer has heard in quite some time. Yes, it’s that good.
I couldn't agree with you more, except for the New York City part. They actually hail from Binghamton, NY, however they did record their second album, Rock & Roll Heart in a NYC studio.
As an undeniable Driftwood junkie, I was anticipating something special when they announced their new release, but this has gone way beyond my wildest expectations. And the addition of Joey Acuri on the upright has added another level of depth and intensity to their already soul-stirring sound. Believe or not, they're even better live...great energy, 2+ hour shows, and usually an unexpected cover tune or two that are (dare I say) just as good as the original. These four are the real deal...genuinely talented musicians, gifted songwriters, and just wonderfully nice human beings to boot. They deserve all the recognition they've been getting as of late.
The new release is really something special, but Rock & Roll Heart, recorded live in studio, is tremendous as well. Rally Day, their first release, has some very tasty tunes, and displays clearly the genesis of Dan and Joe's exceptional songwriting abilities. Give em' all a listen... your head and your heart will be glad you did.